Last night, HBO aired the documentary “Swiped,” written and directed by Nancy Jo Sales who published an article about the phenomenon of app-based dating with Vanity Fair in 2015. The film is largely a rehash of her article, illustrating that everyone hates Tinder and would prefer to not be beholden its various rules and mores, except for a certain subset of bro who “cleans up” and delights in ordering a new woman to his home several different nights of the week. It gives the lightest of touches to issues in communities of color and non-hetero groups, veers into whether we should blame porn for men’s short attention spans (women are not asked about whether they watch porn), but spends most of its time setting up the character of the fancy-free straight white dude in order to blame him (perhaps rightfully) for various things.
It’s quite clear from all the sources presented that, in the course of using Tinder, alcohol is almost always involved; hooking up the same night as one meets a date, or even skipping the date and going directly to hooking up is normal, even expected by many people, most of whom are presented in the film as men; and doing this all on the spur of a moment is extremely common. And these are fair assessments; anyone who uses dating apps would attest to these things.
Toward the end of the film, it raises the question of the actual physical danger these apps present, pointing to cases where women who have been assaulted or murdered. On this subject, producers turned to Mandy Ginsberg, the first female CEO of IAC’s Match Group as of 2018. The Match Group’s products include Tinder, OkCupid, BlackPeopleMeet, Match, and PlentyOfFish.
“The MeToo movement created this huge voice in the community,” said Ginsberg. “As a woman running the largest set of dating products in the world we have to listen to that voice, we have to adapt our products, how we work internally, our sensitivity to things… we are creating social products that sit in the hands of women… I do think it’s important for us to both protect, listen, and create products that are relevant to women.”
Here the shot cuts, and then an off camera interviewer who is maybe Nancy Jo Sales but maybe is not says “And how are you going to do that?”
Ginsberg responds with the following: “Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple of things we need to do one, um, We have safety tips… First of all it’s really important that women don’t meet people… they never go to someone’s house, they meet in a public place, they don’t drink, they let someone know where they’re going, um, they are, they take, um, precaution, they let a person know that they’re on a date with someone else, they never go into someone’s car, um… so there’s a number of safety tips that we provide for people, and I just think that people have to just take real precaution.”
There are no video cuts between Ginsberg framing the advice as directed at women and listing off the safety tips for protecting oneself when meeting a random person. As the tips she is referencing are presented on IAC’s Match Group site, they are not targeted at a specific sub-population, so it’s telling that Ginsberg places the burden of good behavior and safety on women specifically. Thus, we present Tinder’s guidelines to women for not getting raped:
Never go to someone’s house
Meet in a public place
Let someone know where you’re going
Never go into someone’s car
Should the men not rape? Neither Ginsberg nor the Safety Tips page specify.